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Legislation means one-time payout for ISD 192

Jeff Priess is still waiting for some of the details, but one day after lawmakers wrapped up their work for the 2008 legislative session the Farmington School District's finance director encouraged by what he's seen for school districts.

The most visible benefit for Minnesota schools is a one-time payout of $51 per student to districts around the state. For the Farmington School District, that will mean about $380,000. Priess called the additional money "a big deal," but he doesn't expect it to solve any long-term problems for the district.

$380,000 is about 1 percent of the district's overall general fund.

"What you can't do is build any continuing kinds of programs because it's going to be one-time income," Priess said.

Priess expects the district to put its share of the roughly $104 million that will be paid out statewide toward either building the district's fund balance or addressing technology needs in district schools.

One piece of legislation that intrigues Priess came as a surprise toward the end of the session. Priess is still waiting for details, but the legislation appears to give school districts authority to collect more from taxpayers to pay for employees' post-retirement benefits.

"(Superintendent Brad Meeks) and I were talking about this and we hadn't heard anything about this during the session," Priess said. "It could have a real positive impact for us."

Legislators also gave school districts a one-time opportunity to transfer up to $51 per student from building funds to the classroom, but with the district already shifting around building money to pay for artificial turf at the new high school Priess does not expect ISD 192 to take advantage of that.

"We're trying to build up our capital funds for the projects we've got going," he said.

Priess also does not expect the district to see any benefit -- at least in the immediate future -- from legislation that increases school districts' levy authority from $100 to $150 per pupil. The Farmington School District is not currently at the $100 limit.